Are you feeling overwhelmed? You are not alone. According to a recent Gallup poll more than 50% of working women are now squeezing an additional eight hours into what used to be a 40-hour work week and few of us can escape the demands that technological advances have placed on our personal time. Access to smartphones and personal computers have brought with it the expectation that we will respond immediately and keep ourselves informed at all times. This is becoming an ever increasing problem in the workplace, not only for us as individuals but also for us as a corporate community. Both as individuals and as organizations, we are falling short.
Overwhelm is an interesting feeling. In my own personal reflections, I noticed it is accompanied by a feeling of hopelessness brought about by the experience that everything is just “too much.” It is this hopeless “too much” feeling that makes it difficult to shake off. Why? Because action is the best defence against feeling overwhelmed and yet overwhelm all too often stops us from taking action.
Yet if we are going to free ourselves of being overwhelmed, action is required. What kind of action am I talking about? Certainly not the kind that got us into overwhelm to begin with. That action is typically ‘chicken with the head cut off’ action. It is urgent, immediate and more often than not, ineffective. It is non-focused in that, as we do one task we find ourselves thinking of three other things that require our attention and therefore don’t fully focus on the task at hand.
It is non-directed in that stress itself activates our stress patterns which then in turn demand an explanation for the need for stress. In other words, the more stressed we feel the more we become convinced there is something in our environment that requires the need for us to be stressed.
Perhaps you have noticed this in yourself. When stressed do you check your emails repeatedly or answer the ringing telephone because you are convinced there must be an emergency on the other end of the line? This is the nature of patterns – the mind doesn’t question the body. If the body feels stressed, then as far as the mind is concerned stress must be necessary. Our mind is then required to find something in its environment that make sense out of the body’s need to feel stress.
Ineffective actions such as these invite overwhelm. Overwhelm is the body’s defence – it shuts itself down by causing the feeling of ‘too much’ which stops us from taking more action. The problem however is all or nothing is at best a temporary fix and does not solve our problem.
So how then do we deal with overwhelm? Proactively? Set a plan that is doable and stick to it? Know the direction you want to go in and say no to requests that take you away from that direction? Set aside blocks of uninterrupted time where you work your plan?
As logical as all this is, it is not all that practical in today’s technologically connected world. Our time is not our own and that is a fact. Instead of trying to deal with all this on the outside we need to manage stress levels before we drop into a state of overwhelm. For more on how to do this, why not book a free strategy session. Together, we can personalize a plan to reduce and manage your stress levels. Click here to book your free call.